Trudeau and Biden meet, and something new from Disney Plus: In The News for Feb. 23

By The Canadian Press

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Feb. 23 …

What we are watching in Canada …

The White House isn’t leaving much wiggle room for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to escape Joe Biden’s Buy American rules. 

The two leaders are set to meet virtually later today in Biden’s first bilateral meeting since taking over as U.S. president. 

Trudeau is likely to ask Biden for help in procuring COVID-19 vaccines, since Canada has been squeezed by production problems in Europe.

The two leaders will also talk about China, where Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have been detained for more than two years.

Experts also want Ottawa to push hard for a Canadian exemption from plans to prioritize U.S. businesses for federal infrastructure and procurement. 

But White House press secretary Jen Psaki says no immediate changes to the regime are on the horizon.

Also this …

The Manitoba military reservist who pleaded guilty to eight charges related to an incident at Rideau Hall last summer is to be sentenced in an Ottawa courtroom today.

Corey Hurren, 46, rammed through a gate at Rideau Hall and headed on foot toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s home at Rideau Cottage while heavily armed on July 2 last year.

Police were able to talk Hurren down and arrested him peacefully after about 90 minutes.

He originally faced 21 weapons charges and one of threatening the prime minister, who was not home at the time.

Earlier this month, he pleaded guilty to seven weapons charges related to possession of prohibited or restricted firearms “for a purpose contrary to the public peace.”

He also pleaded guilty to one charge of mischief by wilfully causing $100,000 worth of damage to the Rideau Hall gate.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

The pandemic surpassed a milestone Monday in the United States that once seemed unimaginable — COVID-19 has now claimed 500,000 lives and counting.

Experts warn that about 90,000 more deaths are likely in the next few months, despite a massive campaign to vaccinate people. 

Meanwhile, the nation’’ trauma continues to accrue in a way unparalleled in recent American life, said Donna Schuurman of the Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families in Portland, Ore. 

At other moments of epic loss, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Americans have pulled together to confront crisis and console survivors. But this time, the nation is deeply divided. Staggering numbers of families are dealing with death, serious illness and financial hardship. And many are left to cope in isolation, unable even to hold funerals.  

“In a way, we’re all grieving,” said Schuurman, who has counselled the families of those killed in terrorist attacks, natural disasters and school shootings.  

In recent weeks, virus deaths have fallen from more than 4,000 reported on some days in January to an average of fewer than 1,900 per day.  

Still, at half a million, the toll recorded by Johns Hopkins University is already greater than the population of Miami or Kansas City, Miss. It is roughly equal to the number of Americans killed in the Second World War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined. It is akin to a 9/11 every day for nearly six months.  

“The people we lost were extraordinary,” President Joe Biden said Monday, urging Americans to remember the individual lives claimed by the virus, rather than be numbed by the enormity of the toll.  

“Just like that,” he said, “so many of them took their final breath alone in America.”

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Facebook says it will lift its ban on Australians sharing news after reaching a deal with Australia’s government on legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism. 

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook confirmed today that they have agreed on amendments to proposed legislation that would make the social network and Google pay for the news that they feature. 

Facebook blocked Australian users from accessing and sharing news last week after the House of Representatives passed the draft law on Wednesday. 

The senate will debate amended legislation today. 

Frydenberg described the dispute over paying for news content as a “proxy battle for the world.”

On this day in 1970 …

The first public presentation of the Junos, the annual awards of the Canadian recording industry, took place in Toronto.

In entertainment …

Disney Plus is throwing open the vaults today to Star, a new entertainment hub within its existing streaming service that caters to more grown-up tastes for Hollywood fare.

More than 150 TV series and 500 movies from Disney’s Hulu, 20th Century Studios and the FX channel will be available to Canadians on launch day — but it comes with a catch.

You can’t subscribe to Star without being signed up for Disney Plus.

And Disney is raising the subscription price for all users. Monthly rates will go from $8.99 to $11.99 for new Canadian users starting today, and the price increase will take effect for existing subscribers over the summer.

In exchange, viewers will have access to major franchises, “Alien,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Die Hard” among them, and a slate of TV series from “Alias” and “Family Guy” to classics “Hill Street Blues” and “M.A.S.H.”

Disney is also introducing a family-friendly control system that allows parents to lock their children out of certain ratings levels.


NASA has released the first high-quality video of a spacecraft landing on Mars. 

The footage is so good and so amazing that members of the rover’s landing team say they feel as though they’re riding along. 

The Perseverance rover landed last Thursday near an ancient river delta. 

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory landing team shared the three-minute video Monday, after spending the weekend binge-watching it. 

Five of the six descent cameras provided stunning footage of the enormous parachute popping open and the dust kicking up as the rocket engines lowered the rover to the surface with a sky crane.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021

The Canadian Press

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